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School districts still facing hurdles despite TEA pausing accountability ratings

Posted at 5:31 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-12 16:18:08-05

WACO, TX — School districts across the state will no longer have to worry about receiving an A through F rating for its efforts during the coronavirus.

The Texas Education Agency announced Thursday plans to halt the accountability ratings this school year.

While good news for some districts, there are still hurdles to be faced when finishing out the school year.

Dwindling attendance, low enrollment numbers and students falling behind in their studies are common problems this school year for some school districts. These are problems that need to be solved in uncommon ways.

“We are concerned about how to move forward after the pandemic and we’ll be working to identify strategies to provide remediation for our students,” Dr. Susan Kincannon, Waco ISD’s superintendent says.

Waco ISD is down by nearly two and a half percent in student attendance, a number that hasn’t harmed them yet, but potentially could cost a pretty penny moving forward.

“For Waco ISD,” Kincannon said. “Our preliminary projections show that if we aren't held harmless that it could be a five million dollar plus impact for us.”

While this school year is one no one could predict, the removal of accountability ratings relieved some stress for the new teachers of this year: parents.

“Removing the A-F rating eliminates some stress about schools shut down or maybe losing funding because of their rating,” Hope Balfa-Mustakim, a parent with two kids at Waco ISD, said. “But what hits closer to home is that fact that they’re keeping the STAAR test.”

The TEA also announced it has no interest in parting ways with the standardized test this year.

“For one, standardized testing, how we do it now in Texas is already problematic, but for us to be using these tests in the middle of a pandemic is super problematic.”

With all taken into account, Dr. Kincannon said the district will continue to provide the best education while thinking about the future.

”We’re continuing to provide construction for our students and identifying areas for remediation,” she said.

According to the TEA, STAAR testing will be administered on school campuses or at other secure alternative testing sites.